Adobe FrameMaker Accessibility best practices overview
Adobe® FrameMaker® 10 software produces FrameMaker documents and tagged Adobe PDF documents that can be read by screen readers on Windows.
To make an accessible FrameMaker document or tagged PDF document using FrameMaker, you must create the document with accessibility in mind. Here are some things to consider to optimize your FrameMaker documents for accessibility, and help screen reader applications use them:
Logical Read Order
Documents are more accessible if they have been authored with a logical structure in mind. Use FrameMaker to define and create document structure, such as titles, chapters, headings, and multicolumn text, in order to make it easier for assistive technologies, such as screen readers to understand the logical reading order of the content without any ambiguity.
For example, if a tagged Adobe PDF document has been correctly authored using two columns to create a two-column format, the screen reader will read all the way down the first column and then proceed to the second column. On the other hand, if the writer used tabs to imitate the look of two-column text, the screen reader would not recognize the layout as two-column. Instead, it would simply read horizontally, going from the first line in the first column and then tabbing over to the first line in the second column.
The order in which you create frames in the original FrameMaker document is the order that is represented in the logical structure tree of your tagged Adobe PDF file. Therefore, if you move frames in the FrameMaker layout, the structure of your tagged Adobe PDF file will still show frames in the order created. To correct reading order problems, you can use tools in Adobe Acrobat Professional.
Note: Screen readers may not be able to correctly read multicolumn text if it is viewed in FrameMaker. If you want your FrameMaker documents to be read by screen readers using FrameMaker, use single-column formatting. Otherwise, save the document as tagged PDF.
Alternate Text Descriptions for Graphic Objects
The document should contain written descriptions of graphic objects in the document, including drop caps. These graphic objects must be in anchored frames. When a screen reader encounters the graphic in the document, it will read the alternate text. Make sure you use text that makes sense when read out of context. For example, you might want to add alternative text that begins with “A graphic depicting” and then describe what the graphic depicts. For more information about adding alternate text, see Adding alternative text descriptions to images.
Be sure to use fonts that specify character encoding, so that the display and screen reader deliver the correct characters. For more information, see the online manual FrameMaker Character Sets.
The document should include navigational and organization aids, such as a table of contents and useful headings. This provides an easy way for users to move through the document so that they don’t have to read the entire document page by page to find what they’re looking for.
Test Accessibility In Files With FrameMaker
Before making a FrameMaker file or tagged PDF file available for other users, test the file using a screen reader. This will show you how the information in the document will actually be presented to users, and how well such things as the reading order and navigational links will work.
If you encounter errors in a tagged PDF file, make corrections, where possible, in the original FrameMaker file, and then resave it as tagged PDF. That way you maintain a single source file for publishing the content in additional formats, such as XML, SGML, XHTML, and so on.
If you have Acrobat Professional installed, you can also use Acrobat tools to adjust the tagged PDF structure and the reading order. In this case, however, your changes will be saved only in the PDF file, not in the FrameMaker file. For more information on accessibility tools in Acrobat, see the Acrobat online Help or the Acrobat accessibility information on the Adobe accessibility website.
- Start a screen reader for Windows. See the Install ReadMe file for supported screen readers.
- Do any of the following, depending on whether you’re reading a FrameMaker file or tagged PDF file:
- Start FrameMaker and open the FrameMaker file in it.
- Start Acrobat and open the tagged Adobe PDF file in it.
- Use the screen reader to read the document.
- Check for problems, including the following:
- The document contains graphics, but there are no text descriptions for those graphics. To solve this problem, open the original document in FrameMaker and make sure the graphics are in anchored frames. Then select each graphic, choose Graphics > Object Properties > Object Attributes, and add alternate text descriptions.
- Text in columns isn’t read in the correct order. To solve this problem, touch up the reading order of elements in the logical structure tree of your tagged Adobe PDF file using the Tags palette in Acrobat X.